Having finished my Roon trial a while ago, I continue to lurk around in order to follow discussions and, perhaps sometime in the future, get a lifetime subscription (I am too old school to support recurring subscription models for software).
Yet I continue to have difficulties understanding the added value of Roon when compared to other audiophile solutions such as Audirvana (which I already own).
To be clear, I do not have ANY need for multi-room support; I just listen to music in my home office and might also enjoy some remote playing via iPhone or Apple TV. Nor do I care much about visuals, since music is to be listened to anyway; not seen.
What else is there that I may be missing? Or am I not in the target audience?
I extensively tried Audirvana+ and Amara Luxe prior to going Roon. For me, multi-room support, enhanced meta data, room correction, the ability to use an appliance (Nucleus+) vs a general purpose computer and the ability to have an integrated local library with streaming services were very important. If you don’t care about any of this then pick whatever you think sounds best. From my perspective Audirvana sounded brighter than Roon and Amara sounded warmer than Roon but none of them sounded “better” IMHO – they were just slightly different. I will also note I like that I can add HQP to my Roon system if I want to tackle a potential further upgrade in sound. I don’t think HQP works with Audirvana but I could be wrong.
You take room measurements and they build you a convolution filter than can be integrated easily in Roon’s DSP tech to correct. Many, many Roon users (including me) have taken this approach and gotten impressive results.
Correcting for room issues is often one of the best things you can do to improve sound in your system.
As a final note, since you mentioned MQA, Roon has a unique ability to decode MQA files, apply DSP like room correction and then pass the modified file with MQA signaling intact to a DAC that can do the final rendering.
The best aspect of Roon for me is it’s recommendations based on all the music you own. Compared to streaming services that nudge you in the direction of their curated playlists or recommendations based on the music you streamed last week, Roon performs much better.
I originally got roon so I could use HQPlayer to upsample ALAC files. Used to use Audirvana and found HQPlayer sounded better. Also HQPlayer has a horrible interface so needed roon as the front end.
Since then I moved away from software upsampling and now use Chord mscaler so don’t need roon for what I originally got it for. Now I like the interface with the focus features and that multiple people in same house can stream different music from same Qobuz account without family membership. I have also setup a few endpoints but mostly use for a headphone setup.
Indeed - for me, the most important aspect is to be an audiophile version of iTunes, while also accepting various streaming options. I definitely do not need multi-room support - my setup is all in my home office.
I’m a veteran of both Audirvana and Amarra. I have no need for multi room support. I have a large local library and use Tidal as well. I honestly don’t pay that much attention to Roon’s magazine type features, only reading them every once in a great while.
In my experience, Amarra was buggy to the point of absurdity. While Audirvana was better in that regard, it still does not approach the polish and bug free operation of Roon. The Audirvana iPad remote was clunky at best.
It took me quite a while to figure out how to organize the Roon library in a way that made sense to me as Roon is not playlist friendly. Once I got tags figured out, and combined with Roon’s luxurious and smooth operation, I’ve never looked back.
I have HQPlayer as well, which works with Roon, but not Audirvana. Used HQP with Roon for a couple of years, but now that I have a 2 box arrangement (separate server and streamer), I find Roon’s sound quality to be equal to or superior to HQPlayer. HQPlayer is vastly more customizable in terms of SQ.
If you’re happy with Audirvana, save the cash. I was so frustrated by Audirvana’s quirks and bugs, and Roon was such a highler level of programming, I’ve remained on the Roon train even since. There’s really no good alternative.
Wow, I wasn’t aware of solutions like Audrivana. Just finished a brief testing. I find it much better than DLNA solutions like Emby, MediaMonkey or SqueezeBox but still no match for Roon. Didn’t take me long to find limitations (apart from multi-room support):
I stream my music over LAN. My Roon Core runs on NUC with installed Ubuntu Server. It draws 3-4W of power when playing music. Audirvana forces me to use Windows or OSX which are RAM hungry with heavy GUIs operating systems. Kinda kills idea of a server.
Roon allows easy migration between PCs. If I visit my family during holidays or leave for delegation, I can copy my music to pendrive, load all stuff from backup and I am done. Plus it works even when migrating between different operating systems. Audirvana sounds like a lot of manual work here.
Audirvana changes files metadata when analyzing ReplayGain. I spent months on tagging my files. Don’t touch! Roon uses own database to enhance files data without modifying them - much better.
I have many albums in multiple versions. Roon nicely displays release date and version in album view. Audirvana simply shows multiple albums with the same title. How do I know which is which?
Roon offers nice parametric EQ out of the box.
Roon offers crosfeed.
I did not find any major problems with Audirvana but it is very limited in functions. Staying with Roon.
Ive being using Room for nearly 11 months. I’ve gut installed in my qnap Has drive so it’s available 24/7.
Room does occasionally have issues if you have a slow internet connection and if the nas drive is defraging.
But when its up an running it’s brilliant. The most important of all is that the SQ is far better then anyrhing else I’ve tried. Its better then tidal , qobuz Deezer , auralic’s lightning DS software and many others.
I’m a Mac user and was a slave to iTunes most of my digital life. I run a loaded Mac Mini that used Pure Music that I LOVE. But it was a real pain to have to engage my virtual remote to fire up the Mac and the iPad remote interface (for iTunes) did not enable any music discovery. Once I purchased the Optical Sonore Rendu it (IMHO) or equalized the SQ between Pure Music +iTunes and Roon. So now, all things being equal IN CONJUNCTION with my use of Qobuz, it’s a no brainer. So now Roon and the Mac Mini are essentially “plug and play.” I wake up the Mac from sleep and within seconds I’m playing music. For me, Roon represents the best of all worlds.
Roon is great when at home. I’m at my mother-in-law’s now using Audirvana on Dell XPS 15 with Dragonfly Cobalt and Sony WH-1000 XM3 headphones. It works well and sounds great streaming Tidal and Qobuz. Depending on how much cellular hotspot data I burn through, I will probably purchase a lifetime subscription to Audirvana to go with my lifetime Roon subscription.
I have (many) local albums that I haven’t fully tagged and/or added images to (ripped multichannel SACD and DVD-A). Audirvana simply cant make sense of them, while Roon can. I posted about this some time ago including some screenshots that may make this issue clearer:
Of course this may not be relevant to you at all.
On another note: I’ve just been trying JRiver (for Native DSD over DLNA). Very powerful, sure. But after using Roon it feels like… eating sand, or something equally indigestible…